An Internet Speedometer With A Dekatron

[Sprite_tm], like most of us, is fascinated with the earlier ways of counting and controlling electrons. At a hacker convention, he found an old Dekatron tube hooked up to a simple spinner circuit. The prescription for this neon infatuation was to build something with a Dekatron, but making another spinner circuit would be a shame. Instead, he decided to do something useful and ended up building an Internet Speedometer with this vintage display tube.

Like all antique tubes, the Dekatron requires about 400V to glow. After a bit of Googling, [Sprite] found a project that drives a Dekatron with an AVR with the help of a boost converter. Borrowing the idea of controlling a boost converter with a microcontroller, [Sprite] built a circuit with the Internet’s favorite Internet of Things thing – the ESP8266 – that requires only a 12 volt wall wart and a handful of parts.

Controlling the rotating glow of a Dekatron is only half of the build; this device is an Internet speedometer, too. To read out his Internet speed, [Sprite] is using a managed switch that allows SNMP to read the number of incoming and outgoing octets on a network interface. By writing a simple SNMP client for the ESP8266, the device can read how clogged the Intertubes are, both incoming and outgoing.

With an acrylic case fresh out of the laser cutter and a remarkably good job at bending acrylic with a heat gun, [Sprite] has a tiny device that tells him how much Internet he’s currently using. He has a video of it running a speedtest, you can check that video out below.

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Nixie Tube Speedometer In Motorcycle Handlebars

The handlebars of this Honda CL175 ended up being perfect for holding two Nixie tubes which serve as the speedometer. There are two circular cavities on the front fork tree which are the same size as the Nixies. Wrapping the tubes in a bit of rubber before the installation has them looking like they are factory installed!

This isn’t a retrofit, he’s added the entire system himself. It starts with a hall effect sensor and magnets on the rear wheel and swing arm. Right now the result is 4 MPH resolution but he plans to add more magnets to improve upon that. For now, the driver and speedometer circuitry are hosted on protoboard but we found a reddit thread where [Johnathan] talks about creating a more compact PCB. If your own bike lacks the fork tree openings for this (or you need help with the drivers) check out this other Nixie build for a slick-looking enclosure idea.

The link at the top is a garage demo, but last night he also uploaded a rolling test to show the speedometer in action. Check out both videos after the break.

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Instrument Cluster Clock Gets The Show On The Road

While driving around one day, [Esko] noticed that the numbers and dials on a speedometer would be a pretty great medium for a clock build. This was his first project using a microcontroller, and with no time to lose he got his hands on the instrument cluster from a Fiat and used it to make a very unique timepiece.

The instrument cluster he chose was from a diesel Fiat Stilo, which [Esko] chose because the tachometer on the diesel version suited his timekeeping needs almost exactly. The speedometer measures almost all the way to 240 kph which works well for a 24-hour clock too. With the major part sourced, he found an Arduino clone and hit the road (figuratively speaking). A major focus of this project was getting the CAN bus signals sorted out. It helped that the Arduino clone he found had this functionality built-in (and ended up being cheaper than a real Arduino and shield) but he still had quite a bit of difficulty figuring out all of the signals.

In the end he got everything working, using a built-in servo motor in the cluster to make a “ticking” sound for seconds, and using the fuel gauge to keep track of the minutes. [Esko] also donated it to a local car museum when he finished so that others can enjoy this unique timepiece. Be sure to check out the video below to see this clock in action, and if you’re looking for other uses for instrument clusters that you might have lying around, be sure to check out this cluster used for video games.

The mechanics in dashboards are awesome, and produced at scale. That’s why our own [Adam Fabio] is able to get a hold of that type of hardware for his Analog Gauge Stepper kit. He simply adds a 3D printed needle, and a PCB to make interfacing easy.

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Know Your Speed on Rollerblades

[Anurag] is a computer engineering student with a knack for rollerblading. Rollerblades are not a transportation device that are often fitted with speedometers, so [Anurag] took that more as a challenge and designed this Arduino-powered computer to give him more information on his rollerblade rides.

The device uses an Arduino as the brain, and counts wheel revolutions (along with doing a little bit of math) in order to calculate the speed of the rider. The only problem with using this method is that the wheels aren’t on the ground at all times, and slow down slightly when the rider’s foot is off the ground. To make sure he gets accurate data, the Arduino uses an ultrasonic rangefinder to determine the distance to the ground and deduce when it should be taking speed measurements.

In addition to speed, the device can also calculate humidity and temperature, and could be configured to measure any number of things. It outputs its results to a small screen, but it could easily be upgraded with Bluetooth for easy data logging. If speed is truly your goal, you might want to have a look at these motorized rollerblades too.

Supersonic NERF Dart Speedometer

ATtiny Chronograph

[John] was faced with an interesting problem: after he built his own air cannon, how could he tell exactly how fast his NERF darts were moving? Luckily he had some spare parts on hand and hacked together a fully functional projectile speedometer for less than the cost of an Arduino.

A device is essentially two detectors spaced a precise distance apart from one another. When something passes the first detector, a timer is activated which measures how long it takes the object to reach the second detector. From this, the device calculates the speed. [John] used infrared emitter/detector pairs spaced exactly three inches apart and wired them to an ATtiny2313. After a little bit of coding, he now knows just how fast he can fire those squishy ballistic missiles.

The infrared emitter/detector pairs are mounted to a PVC pipe through which the projectile travels. [John] notes that in theory this could be used to measure almost anything that could fit through the pipe, although this particular device might be damaged by muzzle flash or a pressure wave from an actual gun.

We’ve seen other NERF dart air cannons before, and we wonder if maybe there should be some sort of competition to see who can shoot a NERF dart the fastest now that there’s an easy way to measure speed?


Digital speedometer with an arduino

[Martyn] is restoring a 32-year-old Honda motorcycle, so when the ancient speedometer broke last year he thought it was prime time to start of a digital speedometer project. We’re loving the results so far, and would love seeing it on a nicely restored bike.

Instead of the relative horror of driving 40 LEDs with a single Arduino, [Martyn] bit the bullet and got a Maxim 7221 LED driver. Controlling 64 LEDs  over a three-wire interface simplified the board design somewhat, allowing [Martyn] to etch his own PCB with the toner transfer & HCl/H2O2 method. To actually power and control the entire circuit, [Martyn] used an Arduino loaded up with a program based  LedControl library makes programming the spedometer a snap.

Although the speedo works, [Martyn] says he isn’t proud of how it looks. We don’t mind – the candy colored jumpers add a nice flair to the project, and they’re hidden behind the face plate of the speedometer. We’re sure once he gets the neutral, high-beam, and warning indicators working with the LED bar array / tachometer, everything will look awesome.

via reddit

Simple IR Bounce Tachometer

[Rajendra Bhatt] writes in to let us know about a nice simple IR bounce tachometer. The project uses a startUSB for PIC board and a 16×2 character LCD with a very basic Infrared bounce circuit.  Measuring either a reflective or non reflective spot in the rotating object, in this case a bit of white paper, the micro is supposedly capable of measuring up to 99,960 RPM (we think the paper might fly off at this point) with a resolution of 60 RPM. This is the same concept as a beam-break style tachometer but keeps all your electronics on one end of the spinning hazard.

The article also goes into detail about setting the PIC18F2550’s Timer0 register to enable 16-bit resolution.  The PIC is configured to turn on the infrared LED for one second, measure the number of pulses (through timer registers), and multiply that value by 60.  We would be more careful with the TMR0H and TMR0L counters as they have to be read and written in a certain order to preserve their values, but you’d need to be measuring upwards of 15,360 rpm to run into that error.

It is a quality writeup for anyone interested in learning about the start USB for PIC board, tachometers, or a new project. Thanks [Raj]!